The Real Significance of the New iPad

The reactions to the New iPad announcement this week were all over the map. 

Some places said it was basically a yawner (link), while others bought into the "end of the PC" rhetoric (link) .  Some people even warned all developers to stop programming for the keyboard and mouse, even for complex applications like computer-assisted design (link).

My take: I think the announcement was both more and less important than people are saying.  Here's why:


This is not the end of the PC era

I'm sure I'll get some push-back from people who disagree, but I think the whole "PC era" meme from Apple is self-serving hype.  Of course they want to convince you that the world is shifting away from a market where Apple has less than 10% worldwide share to a market where Apple has well over 50% share.  I'd say the same thing if I still worked at Apple.  And the iPad is shiny and sexy, while Windows PCs are old and boring, so I want to believe that the PC is dead.  It makes me feel all Jetson-y. But think about it rationally for a minute.

First of all, what exactly was the PC era that is now supposedly ending?  Was it the years when Windows was the dominant API for software innovation?  That ended in the late 1990s with the rise of web apps.  Was it the era when PCs outsold smartphones?  That ended last year. 

To many people, the end of the PC era seems to mean that tablets are starting to replace PCs as thoroughly as PCs replaced minicomputers.  Or that the keyboard and mouse are going away.  I don't buy it.  We've been declaring the PC dead for at least 15 years, but we're still using them today because for certain tasks, PCs are the best way to get work done.  It may be unsexy and it may seem old-fashioned, but if you're working on a big spreadsheet a mouse and numeric keypad are incredibly productive.  And if you're writing a report, a keyboard is still the easiest way to input text (for now) and edit (for the foreseeable future).

Kind of like a steering wheel and pedals are still the best way to drive a car.  I could do that with a multitouch tablet as well (three-finger swipe to the right means turn at the next corner, four fingers down means apply brakes), but sometimes direct control is the best approach.

And yes (comma) I have tried Dragon (pause) Naturally (pause) Speaking (pause) many times (period) (space) And I found that by the tame I went back and fixed all the types it created (comma) I had not saved any time (comma) plus it was difficult to speak in the sort of sentences I wanted to write because you know I kind of speak more casually than I write (period)

My point is not that touch and speech input and tablets are useless.  I think they're great, and I've been playing with them for more than a decade.  But I'm going to have the most productivity if I can choose the best tools for a particular job, and that means I still need a pointing device and keyboard for some sorts of work.

Now, if Apple were saying that the PC will be less dominant than it was in the past, I'd have no trouble with that.  Although we're not seeing the overall death of the PC, we're definitely seeing a narrowing down of it.  For tasks like reading or interacting with content, a tablet is far superior to a traditional PC, and if that's all you do with your PC, by all means get rid of it.  But PC-like devices (or maybe mice and keyboards that connect to tablets) are going to linger for the sorts of work that they do best.

So if you have a touch-sensitive screen connected to a keyboard and mouse, do you call that hybrid device a PC or a tablet?  I don't really care; it's a game of semantics at that point, and semantics are the playground of companies that want to score marketing points.  Which brings us right back to Apple and its enormous tablet market share.

(Oh and by the way, the tablet needs a stylus for certain types of work.  One of Steve Jobs' strengths was his willingness to revisit his assumptions when he was wrong, and this is one of those cases.  I worry that since Jobs died, Apple may now get locked into his religious opposition to the stylus.  That would leave Apple vulnerable to a competitor who does the stylus right by tuning the hardware and software to work together.)


What does matter about the new iPad


Two things stand out to me.  The first is the screen.  Yes it's very pretty, but that's not the point.  The Retina display is a very nice feature in a smartphone, but in a tablet it's far more important because tablets get used more for reading long-form text like novels, textbooks, and magazines. 

For displaying photos and videos, enormous screen resolution isn't actually all that important; what matters most is color depth.  If you have millions of colors, the pixels blend together and most images look real even at 150 dots per inch.  But for reading, where you have sharp contrasts between black text and white background, much higher resolution is needed.  At 264 pixels per inch, the new iPad's screen is close to the 300 dpi resolution of the original LaserWriters, which most people found an acceptable substitute for printed text, and which drove a revolutionary change in publishing.  I doubt Apple's display has the same contrast ratio as printed paper, which is also important for readability, but I still think it's likely to give a much nicer reading experience to all those students who are supposed to use iPads as their new textbooks.

Apple posted a clever widget that shows a magnified image of text on the old and new iPads.  I pasted an image from it below.  Yes, in real life the dots are tiny and it will be hard for some people to see the difference.  But eyestrain hinges on little details like this, and as a longtime publishing guy, I can tell you that resolution matters.


On most other hardware specs, the iPad is very good but not overwhelming.  Gizmodo has a good comparison here.  It shows that the upcoming Asus Transformer matches up pretty well on a lot of the specs, although it's a bit pricier and has less powerful batteries.  You could be forgiven for thinking that Android's within striking distance of iPad.

But then there's the software, and this is the second place where I think the new iPad stands out.  As a systems vendor, Apple innovates in both hardware and software, so you have to look at both areas to understand the full iPad offering.  Apple is innovating very aggressively on the software side.  Speech recognition is now being bundled with iPad, and although as I just said I don't think it's ready for writing a long report, Apple has a history of tuning and improving its technologies over time, and I bet we'll see that happen with speech.  The keyboard isn't dead, but if Apple makes speech work well, the tablet can more thoroughly displace the PC in a few more use cases (like creating short messages).

Then there are the new iLife tablet apps, which were probably the most compelling part of the whole announcement.  I'm very impressed by the way Apple refactored photo editing for touch, and I can't wait to play with it.

Add together the high-res screen, the long-term path for speech, and the new apps, and the new iPad looks like a formidable product. 


Hey Google, copy this

Think of it from the perspective of an Android tablet product manager.  You don't just have to beat Apple on hardware, but you also have to figure out how to duplicate a rapidly-growing list of Apple-branded software features that are either bundled or sold at ridiculously low prices. 

Yes, Google is working to copy any features that Apple adds, but how good is it at integrating UI functionality and crafting exquisite applications?  Would you want to bet your product on Google's ability to craft end-user software?

And thanks to Apple's volumes and wickedly controlled supply chain, its prices are low enough that no products other than Amazon's subsidized tablets can get down under them.  So as an Android cloner, you're stuck at rough parity on price, and you are increasingly falling behind on integrated software features.  It's an ugly life.



And then there's Microsoft

It'll be interesting to see how Microsoft deals with all of this.  Windows 8 is an effort to recast Windows for tablets, but will Microsoft be willing to go toe to toe with Apple on app pricing?  Undoubtedly not; that would involve giving up most of the Microsoft Office revenue stream.  So Microsoft has to walk a difficult line in which it embraces touch tablet functionality, but attempts to convince people that they still need to pay big bucks for good old Office.  The first try in that direction, Tablet PC, demonstrated that you can't just cut the keyboard off a PC and call it a tablet.  Windows 8 is much more tablet-centric, but if it makes people feel like they're buying a tablet, they may start looking for tablet-like pricing in their apps, and Office sales could collapse like a house of cards.

If that happens, we'll all stop talking about the end of the PC era and talk instead about the end of the Microsoft era.

26 comments:

Reda EK said...

You write so many great posts that when I read a "good" post I get really disappointed! ;-)
Apple has shown that cloning an existing way of doing things is the wrong way... Apps will come (albeit with lower quality) but what is the differentiating part?

Avi Greengart said...

Mike, I was at the launch, and hands-on, the new iPad's screen is so superior to the iPad 2 that I don't think we'll have too many doubters after they actually see one on March 16.

I do wonder whether Microsoft intends to keep Office exclusive to Windows; the danger is that as iPad sales eat into laptops and desktops, Microsoft could lose a large portion of its Office franchise if it doesn't do an iOS version. On the flip side, the existence of an iOS version could remove one of the key levers Microsoft has to promote Windows 8 tablets.

Richard said...

Thanks for great analysis as usual. A couple of
remarks/questions

1) I thought naming it “iPad 2S” made sense given similar
form factor. I appreciate the simplicity of genericizing, but wonder how it
will impact Apple’s strategy of offering discounted pricing on last year’s model?
It seems offering the iPhone 4S, 4 and 3GS at the same time will be impossible
with future iPads (or will be very confusing naming wise). Surely a company
like Apple will have thought this through, so it seems the broad portfolio
strategy witnessed in the iPhone will not be used for the iPad?

2) An alternative scenario might be that Apple will in the
future actually come up with different form factors for the iPad and simply
refer to it as the iPad 10”, iPad 12” (?) (my guess is that IF Apple does come
up with variants it will be larger rather than smaller screens).

3) I was very pleasantly surprised about Apple
being able to maintain current price point. I do wonder if it will eat into
profit margins, but if it doesn’t, it truly reflects Apple’s astonishing
economies of scale wrt display sourcing. I’m amazed at Apple’s engineering
capabilities given the relatively minor weight/size penalty given the
quadrupling of pixels

tk said...

There is a huge need for a tablet as a productivity device, which unfortunately isn't being met by anyone at this point. Apple has the lifestyle/leisure part of the market, while Android has, well not so much actually. Of course, the iPad can be used for productivity, but without digital ink, it isn't so good at it.

If Microsoft can create a compelling version of Onenote for Metro, with full digital ink support across Metro apps, they have a huge chance at taking a big part of the tablet market. You cannot do Math on an iPad, and using art apps with a finger or those horrible capacitive styli is a terrible experience. (Even if Phil Shiller said otherwise during the new iPad unveiling.)

The relative success of the Galaxy Note is proof that there is an unmet market for productivity devices. If they can sell over 2 million such devices without true ink support at the OS level, imagine how successful such a device could be if Metro takes off. (A big if, I must say.)

I know I might be simplifying things, but appearances mean a lot, and the iPad is mostly considered a leisure device. If Microsoft can associate with productivity in people's minds, while carnering to entertainement and media with Xbox Live games and good support for apps like Kindle and Kobo, they have a shot at being successful.

I am interested in hearing about your opinion of the potential of the Metro interface, Mike. I for one am in love with it, as it seems so efficient, but at the same time I must admit that I am not so confident about its chances of making a real dent in the market. I feel like the cutesy and familiarity of the iOS interface (with its increasing skeuomorphism) will have an easier time winning the public's affection. Metro must be more skinnable (perhaps with themes available in the Market), otherwise it just looks too dry, too squarish. It would look terrific in a museum of contemporary art, but most people prefer Disney type design, which Apple is king of right now. Again, I love Metro, but I also felt the same about webOS, and we all know what happened to that...

Steve Romero said...

I am of the opinion that the "end of the PC era" simply means that more folks will use a tablet as their primary personal computing device instead of a PC desktop or PC laptop computer. And no, attaching a keyboard and/or mouse to a tablet does not make it a PC. There is much more that separates a tablet from a PC (and when compared to other tablet devices, it is an insult calling an iPad a tablet).

Pundits may have been talking about the end of the PC era for years, but the trends and advances they cited were a joke compared to the juggernaut that is the iPad. Sure, PCs will still be around for years, but their numbers will be dwarfed by the number of iPads.

Walt French said...

Sorry I can't recall to credit, but a few weeks back, I saw somebody write that if he got together all the people who were writing great new cutting-edge PC apps, he'd easily fill the room.

Whereas if he had a conference for all the people writing great new mobile apps, they wouldn't fit into the hotel.

That's what end-of-an-era means: there'll still be maintenance and even enhancements to the desktop stuff. But the transformative work, creating brand new app categories or user experiences, will be on mobile.

oomo said...

All I see, it's NO-computer user people are loving to ditch PC and take iPad to do dailies tasks : web, reading, email, musics, nice creation and some editing work.

the point is : you could reinvent the mac with ipad/iphone foundations and people will use it a LOT more than pc/mac.

PC will become a tools for engineers (me), some professionals (for a time, graphics, for a longer time videomakers, and so on) and maybe a tools for hardcore gaming.

but people will be able to AT LAST drop the whole crazy and complex old pc (windows, software, file systems, drivers, esoteric errors message, bios/efi, booting and virus) in the trash.

Even the Mac (I still love it) is too much complex and full of oddities in front of an ipad.


We can do a NEW computing, and it's coming _now_.

specialized device, arm cpu commodizations, and so on.

Walt French said...

Apple is being just terribly smart in what Horace Dedieu calls “asymmetric competition.”

Amazon and Google both have clever business models that subsidize the cost of the OS (and for Amazon, the hardware) by ads or downstream revenues. But to the extent that Apple can set expectations at the iPad's quality level, the long tail subsidies are not enough to make for a meaningful price difference.

Ditto for the carrier subsidies that've propelled Android phones. By setting up the standard for tablets as month-to-month, Apple strips the incentive for Verizon to push a lower-cost Xoom or Samsung tablet. They need to cover their retail costs from ordinary retail margins— something like 80% of tablets do NOT even use a cellular data plan. Much different when you have a 2-year lock-in of revenues to cover subsidies.

Google's and Amazon's business models can work when hardware costs dip down to where the bill of materials are well below $200. We should expect them to hang in, but not thrive.

Microsoft has a whole 'nother challenge: how to communicate personal advantages of devices that it is positioning as adjuncts to desktop usage. Today, I'm still waiting on a callback for some problem with MS Lync (that I suspect is related to VPN issues). This is NOT a scenario that'll encourage personal use, even if businesses favor MS tools.

I still see advantage to Apple setting up a low-cost line in phones & tablets, just the way that Toyota first branched upwards with Lexus, but then created their entry-level Scion line. Differentiated, aimed at more cost-conscious users. Yes, even if iPad is their low-cost MacBook line. Can't be far downstream.

dang1 said...

I think tablets are not as useful, so not as widely appealing to most people as phones, and desktops and laptops. Phones are conveniently mobile, easily fitting in the pocket. Desktops and laptops can do more than tablets. Tablets just seems to be the hype device of the moment.

Ramon Austin said...

With all the buzz about the new ipad, I'm beginning to wonder if it really has what it takes to actually make an impact on society.

Anonymous said...

I do think the PC as in personal computer era is ending. You said it yourself - a "PC" is good for getting work done.

I know several households that used to have "personal" computers and have essentially retired them in favour of tablets. Those same people do use a "PC" at work though and there is no prospect of that changing in the foreseeable future. Heck I work from home and use a PC for work and a tablet for most non-work activities!

A tablet is extremely portable - ie you can do whatever you want wherever you want in your house. Desktops are anchored, and even laptops aren't convenient to use everywhere.

(Yes I know this is anecdotal "evidence")

Anonymous said...

You must have missed the news that Microsoft is giving away a free suite of Office with each Windows on ARM tablet...

http://www.theverge.com/microsoft/2012/2/9/2787296/windows-8-arm-includes-office-details

Microsoft is effectively giving a $100 discount on each WOA tablet and will certainly match Apple on app price points.

Anonymous said...

Mike, great article! When Jobs said the pc era was over, he meant the Microsoft era was over.

As you say, software pricing on iOS devices is a serious threat to both Windows and Office. There is no way MS can charge pc-Windows prices for a tablet-OS since the OEMs will not be able to compete with Apple.

Similarly with Office, who will pay $200 for software on a $400 device when you can get comparable products for $30 on iOS.

Given that Apple is gearing up to sell 100 million iPad 3's over the next 12 months, before any serious windows tablets appear, it really does look like Jobs is getting the ultimate revenge over MS...

Rohan Jayasekera said...

Wow, the first time ever that I've disagreed with one of your posts :)

Like some of the other commenters, I do believe in the "post-PC era". Sure, you and I will keep on using laptops, but most young people will never get one, because they'll have started with a tablet and won't switch as they get older. Why switch to something that costs money to buy (you already have a tablet), is big and heavy, and is so complicated that needs a relative or "Genius" to provide tech support? Those young people may not even need a keyboard accessory for speed, because they'll already be pretty good at using the on-screen keyboard – and may never have used a physical keyboard so won't be used to one, just like I'm not used to an on-screen keyboard. Only those whose work requires it will make the switch – and they won't be happy about it so they'll avoid it if at all possible, even if switching would boost their productivity. As an analogy, apparently I could type faster if I switched to a Dvorak keyboard, but QWERTY is what I'm used to.

When you say that "PC-like devices (or maybe mice and keyboards that connect to tablets) are going to linger", yes, absolutely. But a tablet with a keyboard and mouse is still a tablet, not a PC. It's far easier to use and maintain because it runs iOS or Android, not Windows or Mac OS. I think the traditional PC will, within a few years, become "something that old people use", just like old people still wear watches and carry pens. And good riddance: your lap or desk is no place to store valuable data, and if all you want is a terminal to the cloud (with offline capability) then it might as well be an easy-to-use tablet.

mannyvel said...

For most people, an iPad with a bluetooth keyboard would be more than enough to fulfill whatever work they do on a computer.

Nobody's arguing that spreadsheet users will suddenly throw their 35" screen away and grab an iPad - although they will for touch ups, etc.

The only limitation for the iPad as a PC replacement is the screen factor ie: people are used to big monitors on desks. WIth big monitors you can blow up the text size so even older people (clerks, receptionists, etc) can read it. You can't really do that on an iPad that well.

EdWoodsReviews said...

@TK - I don't have the new iPad yet, but I do have iPhone 4, and find its Retina Display every bit as easy to read as an eInk device.

eInk is slow and clumsy, and I don't like the dark and gloomy "read feel" it has on Kindles and similar devices. I'd encourage you to take a look at the new iPad when it comes out; you might be pleasantly surprised about display quality compared to eInk, in which case the whole eInk case pretty much collapses.

Microsoft has a huge problem: Nobody ever fell in love with a Microsoft product. They are utilitarian, designed to get the job done. Furthermore, their quality and reliability problems have been the butt of jokes for years. Apple's goal is simple: to delight the customer.

Plenty of people fell in love with their Mercedes; hardly anyone fell in love with a Chevette. So you could sell plenty of Chevettes even though they were visibly inferior to anything out there. But now that Apple has Mercedes-class products selling for the same price as Chevettes, Not only that, they have an ecosystem of excellent, cheap software that blows away anything available for Windows.

All Microsoft has to fight back is Office. And Pages can create Office documents.

@Mannyvel - Tablet users with poor vision can simply hold their tablet closer to their face, and/or tap to expand screen columns for bigger type. No need to use a PC for that. I have to increase the type size on my iMac to read easily, but I have no trouble reading on iPad.

D

Michael Mace said...

This is a cool discussion. Thanks everybody.

The whole subject of transitioning platforms and the future of computing deserves much more discussion that I can give it in the comments section of this post. You're raising some great points, and I think there are other things that need to be considered (like the willingness of new generations to adapt themselves to new technology, something that Josh Hannah http://www.joshhannah.com/, a very smart VC, pointed out to me last week).


Avi Greengart wrote:

>>the new iPad's screen is so superior to the iPad 2 that I don't think we'll have too many doubters after they actually see one on March 16.

Thanks, Avi! Good to know.


>>I do wonder whether Microsoft intends to keep Office exclusive to Windows....On the flip side, the existence of an iOS version could remove one of the key levers Microsoft has to promote Windows 8 tablets.

You mean exclusive to Windows and Mac, right? ;-)


Richard wrote:

>> I appreciate the simplicity of genericizing, but wonder how it will impact Apple’s strategy of offering discounted pricing on last year’s model?

Yeah, I wonder the same thing. Maybe they figure that at retail they'll just say "this is the $399 one" and list its features. So you don't think about product generations any more

A bigger problem will be for developers communicating compatibility. If my app runs only on the new iPad or my case fits only the new iPad, how do I explain that to customers? You can't. For an app, I guess Apple's answer would be that in the app store they'll make sure a user is not offered an app that won't run on their device. For an accessory creator, maybe the message is that you should not sell accessories except through the Apple store.

Ahh, okay, it makes life harder for people selling iPad-related things independently of Apple. If I'm a cynic, I view that as Apple's motivation. But at a minimum, they are not going out of their way to make life easier for independent hardware and software developers.


>>It seems offering the iPhone 4S, 4 and 3GS at the same time will be impossible with future iPads (or will be very confusing naming wise)... it seems the broad portfolio strategy witnessed in the iPhone will not be used for the iPad?

One thing I've learned about naming strategies is that all of them break down eventually, so you shouldn't sweat them too much. But yeah, Apple seems to be trying to keep its portfolio simple. You need lots of products to fill shelf space and market niches when you're competing in open retail. But since Apple controls so much of its channel, it can act different(ly).


>>I was very pleasantly surprised about Apple being able to maintain current price point.

It is impressive, but it's also the way Apple operates. There seems to be a strong desire to keep iPhone, iPad, and Mac separated by price, although the high end of iPod Touch now overlaps with the low end of iPad.

Michael Mace said...

tk wrote:

>>There is a huge need for a tablet as a productivity device, which unfortunately isn't being met by anyone at this point. Apple has the lifestyle/leisure part of the market, while Android has, well not so much actually. Of course, the iPad can be used for productivity, but without digital ink, it isn't so good at it.

I agree 100%.


>>If Microsoft can create a compelling version of Onenote for Metro, with full digital ink support across Metro apps, they have a huge chance at taking a big part of the tablet market.

A very interesting thought.


>>You cannot do Math on an iPad, and using art apps with a finger or those horrible capacitive styli is a terrible experience. (Even if Phil Shiller said otherwise during the new iPad unveiling.)

Phil is a bright guy, and I have tremendous respect for what he's accomplished. But I think that line about how great it is to draw in high-res with your finger was not his most shining moment.


>>I know I might be simplifying things, but appearances mean a lot, and the iPad is mostly considered a leisure device. If Microsoft can associate with productivity in people's minds, while carnering to entertainement and media with Xbox Live games and good support for apps like Kindle and Kobo, they have a shot at being successful.

That's a really good perspective, TK. I wonder if Microsoft understands the opportunity. They've had a tendency to get sucked into copying Apple rather than thinking independently, and your scenario requires independent thinking. (It also requires crisp and nimble execution, something else I don't associate with Microsoft.)


>>I am interested in hearing about your opinion of the potential of the Metro interface, Mike.

Thanks for asking. I ahve installed Windows and I am playing with it, and all I can say at this point is that I love the idea of Metro.

I'll write more once I've had more time with it.


>> I feel like the cutesy and familiarity of the iOS interface (with its increasing skeuomorphism) will have an easier time winning the public's affection.

Just wanted to send you kudos for introducing me to a new word.


>>Metro must be more skinnable (perhaps with themes available in the Market), otherwise it just looks too dry, too squarish. It would look terrific in a museum of contemporary art, but most people prefer Disney type design, which Apple is king of right now.

Yeaaaaah, that's part of what I'm feeling about Metro at the moment. It kind of feels like something that someone cut out of construction paper.


Steve Romero wrote:

>>I am of the opinion that the "end of the PC era" simply means that more folks will use a tablet as their primary personal computing device instead of a PC desktop or PC laptop computer.

Fair enough.


>>And no, attaching a keyboard and/or mouse to a tablet does not make it a PC.

Then how do you define a PC?


Walt French wrote:

>>there'll still be maintenance and even enhancements to the desktop stuff. But the transformative work, creating brand new app categories or user experiences, will be on mobile.

Fair enough, but that means the PC era (orat least the Windows era) ended ten years ago, with the rise of web apps.


oomo wrote:

>>people will be able to AT LAST drop the whole crazy and complex old pc (windows, software, file systems, drivers, esoteric errors message, bios/efi, booting and virus) in the trash.

I have no disagreement with the idea that the PC is old and crufty.

Michael Mace said...

Walt French wrote:

>>Microsoft has a whole 'nother challenge: how to communicate personal advantages of devices that it is positioning as adjuncts to desktop usage.

Do we know for sure how Microsoft is going to position Windows 8? Does Microsoft? So far it feels like in marketing terms their idea is to ride the horse at the same time as they cook and eat it.


dang1 wrote:

>>Tablets just seems to be the hype device of the moment.

The diversity of opinion on this subject is so much fun. And before anyone gets dismissive of Dang's opinion, remember how people felt about PDAs in 2000.


Anonymous wrote:

>>Heck I work from home and use a PC for work and a tablet for most non-work activities!

That makes sense to me -- just use whichever tool is right for the job. I think most users are very practical and nonreligious about issues like this.

But that doesn't mean the end of an era.


Rohan wrote:

>>Like some of the other commenters, I do believe in the "post-PC era". Sure, you and I will keep on using laptops, but most young people will never get one, because they'll have started with a tablet and won't switch as they get older.

It'll be interesting to see if that happens. Right now what I'm seeing with the teenagers I know is that they start with laptops, because they need them for school assignments (and to do video chats with each other). But maybe as Apple pushes iPads into schools, that will change.


>>I think the traditional PC will, within a few years, become "something that old people use", just like old people still wear watches and carry pens.

Maybe you're right. Tell you what, come back in March 2015 and let's see how that has turned out.


>>your lap or desk is no place to store valuable data

And the Internet is??


>>if all you want is a terminal to the cloud (with offline capability) then it might as well be an easy-to-use tablet.

Agreed that if that's all you want, a tablet may be adequate. But you're basically describing a Net PC, and we know how those turned out.


Anonymous wrote:

>>You must have missed the news that Microsoft is giving away a free suite of Office with each Windows on ARM tablet...

Yeah, I did.

How in the world will they make that work? Are they seriously going to make ARM-based Windows 8 tablets $100 cheaper than Intel-based tablets? Or are they planning to give away Office on both platforms? And if so, how do they plan to maintain the Office revenue base?

I feel like we must be missing something. But yeah, if they do that it more than matches Apple's pricing.


Anonymous wrote:

>>When Jobs said the pc era was over, he meant the Microsoft era was over.

Now that I could believe.


mannyvel wrote:

>>Nobody's arguing that spreadsheet users will suddenly throw their 35" screen away and grab an iPad - although they will for touch ups, etc.

Actually, when the O'Reilly folks said that CAD programs should be rewritten for tablets, that's pretty much exactly what they were predicting.

Michael Mace said...

EdWoodsReviews wrote:

>>I'd encourage you to take a look at the new iPad when it comes out; you might be pleasantly surprised about display quality compared to eInk, in which case the whole eInk case pretty much collapses.

Well, there is the whole battery life and weight thing...


>>Microsoft has a huge problem: Nobody ever fell in love with a Microsoft product. They are utilitarian, designed to get the job done.

Actually, almost nobody falls in love with software. In general, it's hardware that people love.

Think about it. People love their iPhones and iPads, but do they love iOS? Or do they respect it?

Anonymous said...

...to the person who mentioned that you'd have difficulty working on large files on the iPad's small display: simply get an iPad-to-HDMI adapter and connect it to your high quality Monitor/display. I do this now with my current iPad, connected to my Samsung 55" LED and I'm sure with the new 'better than 1080p' specs on the upcoming iPad things can only get better ;-)

Rohan Jayasekera said...

>>your lap or desk is no place to store valuable data

>And the Internet is??


Yes, for people who don't take proper backups, which is most people. Even though backup can now be done via one-time setup (e.g. I keep all my files in Dropbox), that's still more than most people will do. They're better off having their documents stored by (say) Google Apps, and their emails stored by any hosted email service. Which is the trend anyway.

>>if all you want is a terminal to the cloud (with offline capability) then it might as well be an easy-to-use tablet.

>Agreed that if that's all you want, a tablet may be adequate. But you're basically describing a Net PC, and we know how those turned out.


Net PCs were still PCs: they ran Windows, or were thin clients to Windows, so they had all the complication of a PC. iOS or Android tablets are very different, as they're user-friendly devices (on my blog I've called them "no OS" devices to emphasize this). Currently this limits their ability to be used for "real work" but that's changing as work apps become available in tablet-oriented form. I see iOS/Android devices (tablets and phones) as a disruptive innovation, i.e. a seemingly lesser newcomer that after a while relegates the incumbent to a small market.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike!

I think Post-PC simply means the category of computing devices that follow the general purpose desktop stand-alone personal computer.

These devices have their roots in and gain their relevance from the network. Like a PC without an internet connection, tablets and smart phones are relatively useless to modern users without a persistent connection to each other and to the cloud.

A post-PC device isn't just a dumb terminal endpoint, it is part of an extended network of sensors and inputs that enhance the value of the entire network.

dang1 said...

I'm still not seeing the usefulness of tablets. My Verizon Galaxy Nexus, and Windows laptop and desktop, work great for me.

Anonymous said...

I installed the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on my HP Touchsmart tm2 laptop (nice touch screen) and tried to find my way around the Metro interface. The underlying design idea seems to be to hide anything that you'd want to click on or touch, which is counter-intuitive to me. Even on the lock screen, you have to drag the picture out of the way to see the place to sign in. Once you're signed in, you have to swipe in from the right to see the "charms." The confusing design aspect is that there is absolutely no indication that these functions are there -- it's completely non-intuitive and provides no hints or guidance.
While Metro might make a decent phone or tablet interface, I don't think that putting lots of distracting rectangles in front of a non-intuitive UI is the way to greater productivity, even with a touchscreen.

Anonymous said...

I think the comment about the post-PC era is not just about form factors, although I think for younger people who did not grow up with a PC, the PC will become superfluous, but about the end of the PC era monolithic software also. I think, possibly the most important aspect of the post PC era is the birth of the App era and the ability to have hundreds of small Apps that address specific tasks. Voice and Apps are the future. You will be able to instruct an App to fill in a spreadsheet or correct dictation. Voice, which is possibly 80-90% accurate now, will be 95+ accurate in its next iteration. Voice based assist will become the norm for the next generation.....as the kids say, its the future, deal with it.